Globe & Mail Photo Lacks Context

January 24, 2007

Globemail The Globe and Mail‘s online photo gallery today features this picture in a series of 12 photographs that best represent the "images of the past 24 hours."


The Globe’s photo caption reads:

?Palestinians check the damage caused by an explosion at a restaurant in a holiday village in the northern Gaza Strip.? Photo: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

After reading the caption, can you guess what caused the explosion?

a) A gas leak in the restaurant’s oven;

b) An Israeli military operation;

c) A Qassam missile aimed at Israel accidentally exploded during launch;

d) Masked Palestinian gunmen blew up the restaurant in another instance of internal factional violence.

The correct answer is D, as seen in the original caption here:

"A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a vacant resort after it was blown up in Gaza January 23, 2007. Masked Palestinian gunmen blew up a vacant resort in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, claiming they belonged to al Qaeda and that the holiday complex is owned by Fatah kingpin Mohammed Dahlan, its manager said. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA)?

Unfortunately, the shortened caption provided by the Globe did not properly inform readers about the context of this incident. This is not an entirely isolated incident; in recent months we have contacted Globe editors several times about photos that lack appropriate context.

To the Globe’s credit, on Dec. 5, 2005, the newspaper committed to "do a review of its internal procedures on the use of" stand-alone photographs, and in several instances captions that lacked necessary context have been updated.

HonestReporting Canada has asked Globe editors to update this most recent incomplete caption. As the Society of Professional Journalists? Code of Ethics states, photos should not "oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context."

Stay tuned.


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